About me

 A Creative Writing graduate from the University of Utah, I caught the theatre bug at a young age and spent decades studying theatre, performing in plays and musicals, and writing lyrics, skits and librettos for various school and community projects across Missouri, Utah and California until the world of responsibilities and "nine to five" lured me away from the arts for many years.

 

After studying and researching the rare accounts of gay men who survived the Third Reich, I was inspired to write the play, Dietrich Danzig, which was selected by the Long Beach Playhouse for their 2014 New Works Festival and was given a full, public reading where it was clear that it should be a motion picture.  Since then, my screenplay The Politics of Love & Dance has garnered 24 awards and accolades including Best Feature Screenplay for the 11th LA Indie Film Fest, 2017 Omaha Film Fest, 1st Annual TeaDance Film Fest, Screenwriting Fellowship Winner for the 40th Atlanta Film Festival, and 1st Place in the 2017 Flickers Rhode Island Film Festival.  It also placed in the Top 15% for the 2019 Academy Nicholl Fellowship.

After losing my mother to cancer in Fall of 2015, I was compelled to write a second screenplay that delves into the idea of how we are all "connected" spiritually and that everything in life happens for a reason.  A dramedy set in 1989 New York City, in the midst of the AIDS crisis, Connect, was completed in April of 2016 and has garnered 21 awards and accolades from competitions and festivals, including Best Feature Screenplay in the 2017 Canada Independent Film Festival, Best Dramatic Screenplay in the 2017 Reno Tahoe International Film Festival, and recently placed in the quarter finals of the 2019 Academy Nicholl Fellowship (Top 5%).

 

In Winter of 2017 I finished Pride & President, which toys with the idea of "what if a U.S. president were gay and came out of the closet?"  This, along with the current reality of LGBTQ teens trapped within the oppression of their religious families, is an important plight that I strongly feel needs to be exposed and addressed.  Too many LGBTQ evangelical youth are being bullied and shamed for having sexual feelings that are innate to the true nature.​​  "P&P" has won 9 awards and accolades, including 4th place in Writer's Digest's 86th Annual Competition, and Top 10 Finalist in both the 2017 National Screenwriters Day competition and the 2018 Cinequest Screenwriting Competition.

My latest screenplay (finished in the Fall of 2017), Last of the Burly Girls, is a pro-feminist, character-driven, musical dramedy taking place between the years of 1900 and 1936 that follows the life of a runaway circus orphan turned burlesque soubrette, her tragic romances, and the backstage rivalry with another showgirl that brings "family"back into her life. "Burly Girls" has won Best Screenplay for the 2019 Beaufort Int'l Film Festival, Best Feature Screenplay for the 2019 Cordillera International Film Festival, landed in the Top 1% of Francis Ford Coppola's 2017 American Zoetrope Screenwriting Contest, and most recently, placed as a semi finalist in the 2019 Academy Nicholl Fellowship (Top 2%).  In addition, I produced and recorded a demo of the seven songs from the film and they can be heard by clicking on the "Listen (Songs)" menu selection above.

I have two new projects in development:

All the Angry Children, a realistic reflection on the challenges of adopting an older child with a traumatic past and the unsavory inability to help them when there is limited assistance or support from non-profit and government agencies.  Many filmmakers prefer to focus on Hallmark, "happily ever after" adoption stories when, truth be told, most adoptions are rife with heartbreaking challenges that never reach a sound resolution and people (in general) need to rise above their heroic fantasies of saving and "curing" a broken child.

The God We're Given, a pro-feminist / anti-fundamentalism story based on the life of my mother who dared to question her inherited Mormon dogma and to find her own truth.  More and more, organized religion has proved to be nonsensical and limiting in today's world and this story will show how my mother navigated the world (for her and our family) after being excommunicated from the Mormon Church and ostracized by family and friends for following her heart.

I am a native Californian and a former New Yorker living in Toronto with my husband, Robert; I've been mentored by Michael Lucker, Robin Henry, Don Woodard and by Dr. Lew Hunter of UCLA's Department of Film & Television; I am an Associate Member of the Dramatists Guild of America, a member of SOCAN, and, I currently work for Canada's public broadcaster, CBC / Radio-Canada.

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© 2018 by John Pisano-Thomsen.